The Erasmus exchange programme has impacted my life in very significant ways. I arrived at Birmingham City University on the 29th of January 2018 and left for my home country exactly at the expiration of the 3-month programme. I left both the institution and the country with mixed feelings- though I had thoroughly enjoyed my stay in BCU, I longed to be reunited with my family. Prior to the commencement of the mobility programme, I had earmarked certain goals that I wanted to achieve on the trip. One of my goals was to enrich the form and content of my project. I was able to make appreciable progress in gathering additional literature within the first month of my stay in BCU with the active support of Nancy Jackson (a librarian in the school of media). I also had regular tutorial sessions with Dr Inger-lise Bore and Dr Yemisi Akinbobola on how to improve my work. I did an open air presentation of my doctoral work in progress close to the tail end of the mobility period. My second goal was to embark on a comparative research of ANC in the UK and Nigeria. In order to achieve this objective, I needed an ethical approval from the Birmingham City University as well as Birmingham Women Hospital. While I was able to obtain an ethical approval from BCU I was unable to obtain an approval from Birmingham Women Hospital. However, I had a few interview sessions with selected respondents outside the established hospital setting using the ethical approval from BCU.
Another objective I sought to achieve on the trip was to increase my knowledge of media studies. I registered fully for a course on Researching Media Cultures while I audited courses like “Strategic Communication for Social Change” as well as “Postgraduate Research Practice” PGCert. The two classes were really rewarding as I got more than I bargained for. I had to unlearn and relearn many things especially as it pertains to teaching research methodology to graduate students. Also one beautiful thing about BCU is the easy camaraderie of its lecturers and students alike. The seating arrangements in many of their lecture rooms is such that students are free to discuss whatever their concerns are and lecturers are also open to learning from their students.
I also learnt that there are really no rights or wrong answers to issues of life, so every wall of inhibition to learning and effective classroom discussion is broken in the process. While I received lectures at the city centre campus of BCU I lived at Oscott gardens a cross-cultural environment situated in North West Birmingham. I had wonderful flat-mates at Oscott gardens who taught me how to cook and eat Chinese cuisine. I also learnt better ways of relating with students from diverse racial and ethnic climes without necessarily allowing stereotypical notions to get in the way. I was also privileged to visit the City south campus of BCU on a number of occasions as well the Birmingham Women Hospital, the School of midwifery and the University of Birmingham. I also visited other interesting places in Birmingham such as the Botanical gardens and the Steam House.
I was more grateful for the opportunity to have met and interacted with more than ten Nigerian professors from three different universities in Nigeria.
My stay in BCU was not without a few challenging moments; the major part of the grey area as to do with the issue of culture shock while the extremely cold weather could not have gone unnoticed. Even though the transportation system was well organized, it was not without its challenges before mastery. The hostel administration at the Oscott garden is not very efficient as many students broke rules and encroached on other students’ right without appropriate sanctions.
Just as I have mentioned earlier, it was a very wonderful experience and I look forward to meeting all my BCU allies again and again.